Jemaa El-Fnaa Market is a square & market place in the old city or Medina of Marrakech, used by locals & tourists.
During the day it’s mostly fresh juice stalls, merchants with traditional leather bags, jewelry & brass cups, youths trying to get you to pay for photos with monkeys & then there are the snake charmers. There are plenty of small cafes & restaurants to have a meal or Moroccan Mint Tea.
As the day progresses, the entertainment changes: late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with dancing/acrobatic boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), storytellers telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines or Argan oil lotions & such.
The souks with the spices & fruit are beautiful in their gorgeous colours & smells!
As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food stalls as the number of people on the square peaks. Steam rising from food stalls greets you, as do the greeters trying to invite you over for a meal.
The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market: both for the common daily needs of the locals & for the tourists looking for something to take home with them.
On other sides are hotels, gardens & café terraces, narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.
The square is so busy that you must watch as you go, for mopeds rush past at breakneck speeds! There are carts, pulled by donkeys, loaded down with fresh bread or fresh produce.
If you want to go into the alleyways we suggest one or two things: 1) Ask your Riad or hotel to find you a guide. You’ll pay them a little to help you not get lost & they’ll take you to what you ask to see. 2) If you don’t want a guide, always look like you know what you’re doing – if you don’t, some troublemakers take note & may try to pickpocket you or otherwise bully you into paying them some money. We chose a guide & had no trouble. Our friends went it alone, and did have a bit of an issue.
The best view of the market will be from a restaurant rooftop patio. We suggest https www.zeitouncafe.com You can enjoy the craziness from the comfort up above! You can hear the entertainment + the Calls to Prayer. Take a peek at our video here: https://youtu.be/xqKpYCBXhWQ
If you want to experience Moroccan cuisine there is literally no better way than to immerse yourself all in. And by all in, I mean sign up for a cooking class!
We booked this class through Viator after reading many excellent reviews about Chef Najla. And she did not disappoint.
As we started to arrive at the meeting point, we introduced ourselves, there was a young woman from Milan, another from Nottingham, a couple from Portugal, myself from Vancouver, Canada & then another couple, from Port Moody, Canada! Not far from me! What are the chances?!
They all were really fun people & we had a great time together. We were greeted warmly by Chef Najla in a little alleyway near a pharmacy & were asked what we wanted to cook from chicken, lamb, vegetable & meatball tajines. We decided upon chicken & meatball, then were given little shopping baskets as we stepped across the street to a fresh fruit & vegetable stand. Najla explained about choosing your vegetables & what to look for, explaining the Moroccan diet & why they eat the way they eat – bread is life – but fruit & vegs are also very important.
We moved along one stall to the butcher where we purchased the chicken, some choosing to see how the fresh chicken is caught & “prepared”. Then down another little alleyway to a beautiful doorway into the chef’s own home.
Her home was the style of the Riads we’ve visited but this one had a more enclosed “courtyard” where all the cooking classes are taught, her family meals are taken, and where she also teaches how to make Argan products by hand. The beautiful tile work & Moroccan decor was bright & welcoming. The home originally belonged to her mother’s parents & holds many memories. It felt very special to be there.
Najla is a lively, cheerful person who clearly loves what she does. We were made the most heavenly Moroccan Tea that I had the entire time we were in Marrakech. It was made with gunpowder green tea (which I purchased) & then infused with special herbs (I purchased the dehydrated version to take home). That was Anise, Spearmint, Peppermint, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Wormwood, Rose Petals & Thyme. There is a certain way to boil & make the tea to “clean” the leaves & get a clear, flavourful tea. The teeny gunpowder tea is as small as caraway seeds but expands when boiled to so much more than you’d think! Then of course, there’s the sugar – they love their tea sweet!
Once we started the food prep, Najla explains the Moroccan spices & what they should (& should not) be used with as far as fish, chicken or vegetables. She explains about the timing & cooking using tajines, also depending on what’s in them. We did get to make some sides as well, one with fire roasted aubergine (eggplant), another with zucchini, also a tomatoe one & lastly, one with potatoes. All were delicious & refreshing!
My favourite thing to learn about was the preserved lemon! The flavour is amazing! It’s lemon only so deep and rich. I’ll be trying my hand at making my own.
It was very interesting to see the difference between the vegetables that we get in Canada from our grocery stores and the ones we chose in the market in Marrakech. Their tomatoes are so beautifully red & flavourful that it makes ours seem tomatoe-esque… the aubergine were a different flavour as well, everyone liked that side dish, even though they weren’t normally fans of the vegetable. I think the difference is that when ours have been shipped, they’re picked before they’re ripe so that they ship well, which means they won’t have the same flavours at all. I will be sourcing our produce directly from local farms from now on, as much as possible.
I have cooked millions of meals for my children, husband, grandchildren & extended family over the years & I still managed to learn some tricks! One: cut tomatoes in half then “grate” the insides out to get a fresh tomatoe base for your tajine(or stew or soup, even pasta sauce); two: take your garlic clove with the skin on – grate that too – you’ll be left with the skin to toss and nicely minced garlic; three: you can fire roast your peppers or aubergine right on the flame of your gas stove! Is it ever tasty!
We got to enjoy every bit of that meal, of course with fresh bread & was it delicious?! The best! We were able to purchase the Berber tea that we got to enjoy, tajines or any of the spices we used, even a few other items, like the Argan products Najla also makes. She does classes to teach people how to make oils by hand too.
As we said goodbye, we took each other’s information so we can follow each other’s further travels & so that we could receive the recipes to try making at home. I’m excited to try!
We would highly recommend this class & would take another ourselves if we were returning to Marrakech, for sure.
Always on the search for the perfect personal item & the best carry-on… I’m going to give these a try:
Found a Kenneth Cole carry-on branded ‘Reaction’ at my local Winners store. It’s got zippered covers on each side to hold your belongings firmly in place + extra pockets inside. I like the easy movement of the double spinner wheels & the telescoping handle works well. There are protective corner pieces & a few spots with grip handles to make it easy to pick up at any angle. This one was about $90
I won’t travel without compression bags (or socks!) now. They make it so much easier to fit everything you want to take into just a carry-on. These ones don’t need a vacuum to seal them, just roll them up by hand. They also protect your clothing etc from any moisture. They cost about $13 for 4 bags.
From experience, I know good shoes make all the difference between enjoying your walking tour & totally not. I knew just where to shop local to get them too – Payton & Buckle Shoes in Downtown Chilliwack. These comfy little slip-on runners are by Vionic & are from their Beach line, they actually have arch support. I’ll wear these for our flights as well – easy on, easy off. They can be worn with my capris, skirts or dresses. I love that they’re washable. It’s going to be hot in Morocco so sandals are a must, these gold ones will be cool but are nicely padded & adjustable across the top of the foot. They’re by Aetrex. Pricing varies. www.paytonandbuckle.com
This time I ordered my new anti-theft personal item bag from Amazon, a co-worker had gotten a similar one that she took to Mexico & it worked very well. I have to have something with lots of compartments, this one has 2 + 18 pockets! I also wanted an extra USB charger, and something that was easy to get into. This one opens like a doctor’s bag & has padding for my tech so putting in my laptop, iPad, eReader etc is simple & safe. This bag has a strong carry handle or can be used as a backpack. It has the strap to secure it to your carry-on handle as well. There were other colour options but I wanted to somewhat match my carry-on & also not get so dirty., so black with grey it is. The brand is Lovevook and was just over $50. Here’s the link for you: amzn.to/3NvHpL3
I wanted to downsize my toiletry bag but couldn’t seem to find what I wanted until I came across this cutie with some travel size Moroccanoil products inside (no that wasn’t planned – Morrocanoil products to Morocco… lol) – extra volume shampoo & conditioner, a light treatment & a clean, light body spray. I learned awhile ago to take much less makeup & skincare. I’m never away that long so a decent wash of my face using my favourite Dermalogica wash, my good quality moisturizing sunscreen, my powder foundation with SPF by Eminence, a toothbrush/paste & some excellent lash extensions by my girl Tracey from Voila Lash Lounge (Downtown Chilliwack & Downtown Abbotsford), deodorant & my tinted chapstick with SPF are really all I need. www.voilalashandbeauty.com
It’s always so much easier to pack for a warm weather holiday than it is a cold weather one… no bulky heavy clothing & footwear, so a carry-on is all you really need. Lessons learned: always take pjs, an extra change of clothes, any medications & your toiletries in your personal item… checked baggage gets lost. A lot. This way you can at least change into pjs & wash the clothes you’re wearing, letting them dry overnight & able to wear your spare outfit until you get your luggage back. I always pack a couple of sheets of Tru Earth laundry strips, they melt easily in the hotel sink & despite not having a strong scent, or major suds, they clean very well. You can also take less clothing if you’re washing in between. I’ll do an update once I’ve tried these bags out.
Simply put, we check it all over, then clean. If you think the airlines have time between one flight & another to do a thorough clean, then think again. There is no way they can clean up everyone’s mess they seem to leave all over the floor(that’s a rant I’ve already posted grr), reload the plane & get everything perfectly clean & sanitized in often less than 20 minutes.
I put our bags under our seats, my husband places anything that needs to go in the overhead there while I get out the disinfectant wipes. I’ve seen how gross people can be (adults are almost worse than kids!) nose picking, bare feet placed on tray tables… I shudder at some things I’ve seen. We wipe down the window, the seats including belts, the TV monitor, the seat pocket, tray tables… once a woman was giving me the side eye as I cleaned, so I flipped over the cloth to show her how BLACK it was, she gagged & asked me if I had an extra wipe… I keep empty sandwich bags with us, the dirty wipes go into them in the seat pocket until the flight attendant comes around collecting garbage, then we use hand wipes on our hands & those also go in the sandwich bag.
Once we get off the plane, we head straight for the nearest washroom, wash our hands & use damp paper towels to wipe the outside of our carry ons since they’ve been on the floor of the aircraft the whole flight.
At the hotel we drop our bags just inside the door, then check that the room is what we paid for, that the bathroom & main room is clean, and most important… the bedding. is. spotless. This sounds like it should be a given. It is NOT. We’ve found, unfortunately more than once, hair or even blood on the bedding. Nope. Absolutely not acceptable.
If something like that happens, one of us stays in the room & the other goes to speak to a manager at reception. Sometimes they come to check, but mostly they’re mortified so just give you another room immediately.
A couple of places we’ve been, that’s the way it is… the standards of cleanliness are not as high as other places, so you keep your shoes and socks on & use some clothing to cover the pillow you’re going to sleep on, or better yet, roll your clothing and sleep on that. Our hotel in India was like that. Also, our hotel in Whitehorse, Yukon.
It may seem like overkill, but now that you’ve read this, you’ll really notice people’s behaviour on long flights, it’s like they lose their perception of what’s appropriate in the company of hundreds of other people. We witnessed a guy walk barefoot into the plane’s washroom, then saunter out, and place his feet on the seat back & his TV monitor! Especially in the wake of Covid & Norwalk… why wouldn’t you take some simple precautions to ensure your hard earned holiday doesn’t get cut short due to illness or worse… staph infection.
PS Do NOT put anything but trash in the pocket in the airplane seat back… we’ve been told by former air crews that most people blow their nose & put the used Kleenex right into the pocket…
If you’re looking for a fantastic girls’ day out – I would highly suggest Downtown Chilliwack but first making reservations at Fortitude Wine Bar for 2pm (you’ll see why, keep reading).
Start out with an early 9 am breakfast at Cultivate Cafe at Minter Country Gardens. Enjoy a leisurely, scrumptious meal made by the talented Chef Cam & served by his adorable wife, Peggy. They’ve even got delicious baked goods or frozen soups to take home with you. I’ll always recommend the Eggs Benny – the. best.
Make a quick right out the door of the cafe into Minters & see all the lovely plants, flowers & gift items on your way into Marais Tea, also in Minters. The loose leaf teas are so fresh & there is something for everyone. They carry delectable chocolate as well.
Next, shop in all of the wonderful stores in the area such as Classic Home Decor & Boutique (so worth the extra minute to go to Alexander Avenue for the clothing, purses, art, decor & furniture that Barb has specifically chosen), then Circa Vintage on Main Street(we could wander among the vintage lovelies & chat with Darby all day!), The Button Box(the girls here are fun & their carefully curated decor & clothing pieces are so good), Pick Eco(it smells divine & they’re always at the ready with ways we can all become more ecologically conscious), also Fraser & Co.(this is an adorable store with gently used & new fashions), and Marion’s Dressing Room(vintage clothing to swoon over)on Mill Street, Lolly’s Fashion Lounge (fashion forward pieces + Matt & Nat purses & other accessories) on Wellington Avenue, also Creekside Chilliwack(beautiful country chic decor), Batiqua(handwoven baskets & decor), The Bookman(the best selection of new & used books, even some collectibles), Mary’s on Wellington(luxury underwear & pjs), Payton & Buckle(shoes, shoes, shoes & purses), The Veganist(a little grocer with tasty alternative choices in food & other products, including gluten & dairy free items), and Pink n Blue Kidz(new & gently used kids’ clothing). Magnolia & Oak(fashionable women’s wear, shoes & accessories – we’ve spent a LOT of time here!), The Local Space(some fun & saucy gift items, clothing, skincare, accessories, all locally, Canadian-made), Hunni’s(lovely women’s wear, including hats & accessories), Spruce Collective(clothing, puzzles, art, cards, candles, kitchenware & more) & The Chwk Store (good quality Chilliwack branded clothing, mugs, stickers, etc) are all in District 1881 on Yale Road.
If you’re looking for premium hair products & services, then stop in at Michael’s on Main, they’re award winning & have been 74 years in business, they carry Kevin Murphy, L’anza, AG hair products, DesignMe, Kenra, Mighty Moose Beard Oils & Balms, and Morocanoil haircare.
Really beautiful lashes & brows are crafted at Voila Lash Lounge, the best coffee or tea is right next door at Smoking Gun Coffee, again on Yale Road. They’ve got their own roasted blends for you to take home & treats to go with it.
If you’re into thrifting, there’s some great little stops on Main Street(the Hospital Auxiliary), Kipp Street(MCC), and a few on Wellington Avenue (Unique Thrifting has 2 spots) that are fun to wander around in & make it easy to upcycle clothing or home goods at a fair price, each of these locations give back to their community in big ways.
Now that you’ve shopped till you dropped, you’ll be glad you reserved at Fortitude Wine Bar to end the afternoon on a relaxing, delicious high note.
An absolute gem in the heart of @downtownchwk in @district1881 is @fortitudewinebar
The atmosphere is classy yet comfortable. The walls are a chic, matte navy blue with hints of green velvet on the banquets & gold accents in the lighting.
The wine or bubbles flights are served on wooden boards as is the charcuterie, that gives that rustic texture.
The appetizers were fresh & delicious from the escargot, to the chef’s board, from the Caprese salad, and the meatballs to the Bruschetta or the blue cheese stuffed dates.
Two of us enjoyed a crisp, delicious Prosecco while the others tried wine flights with some they loved and one not so much. But the excellent servers were helpful in finding another wine to try instead & that one was a hit.
The service was excellent, the pricing was fair & the total atmosphere of wandering along from Main Street and down Yale Road to our destination was just right.
It was easy to sit, visit & carry on conversations while overlooking the new additions to the neighbourhood. Downtown Chilliwack has been working hard to revitalize the businesses, from touching up or refurbishing the historic buildings, being conscientious of our yesteryear when building new ones, also improving the walkability(including parking), and for your viewing pleasure – notice the gorgeous murals found on many walls & most nooks & crannies. Each with a plaque to explain their origin & the artist that created them.
The Green Rocket is a cute cafe & restaurant in the centre of Bath. By their menu & the meals we saw being enjoyed by others, there’s plant-based food made in-house with seasonal produce from local independent businesses.
They serve breakfast, coffee & lunch.
I happened upon the Green Rocket while photographing the Bath Abbey & the Parade Gardens, so had a really delicious iced Americano with a splash of oat milk on the go, but there is indoor & outdoor seating.
Follow along with us the next few weeks as we take our first international trip since December 2018.
We’re heading to England via Heathrow Airport then on to Portugal via Faro Airport.
We’ve decided not to take any checked baggage because of the shortage of staff to deal with it at Heathrow… it’s a hard shell carry-on suitcase all the way for us this vacation. Remember your carry-on luggage with say, Air Canada, doesn’t have a weight limit but it MUST fit in the overhead compartment. You may also take one personal item but it MUST fit under your seat. Here are some suitable hand luggage suggestions https://shop.samsonite.com/ Don’t be that person with more than your allowance as it’s not fair to other travellers who have done as asked.
We’ll be arriving for our evening departure at least 5 hours ahead of time to avoid any delays due to traffic or lineups while going through security. Expert Traveller Tips: Have your allowable liquids in ONE separate, clear plastic 1 litre bag ready to place in an examination tray. If you have any over 100 mls or more than the one 1 litre bag, you will be expected to get rid of them. Also, have your medications & their paperwork together in a separate bag so it’s easily checked.
We need to get to our first destination (London, Heathrow) to get our rental car on time (the only vehicle available!). It’s at least 2.5 hours to the City of Bath where we’re headed. There are strikes going on regarding the trains & possibly other transit so it’s imperative that we get this rental.
After our holiday with family in Bath & Bradford on Avon, we head back to London for one day to be ready for the next leg of our trip… Portugal.
We’ve been reading that there are forest fires, a heat wave, the worst Covid Ba.4 & Ba.5 numbers in the world, also pilot & air crew strikes happening right now in Portugal… we’re completely vaccinated & have all of the sanitizers & masks we could possibly need but we have no control over fires & strike action. As professional traveller, travel writer & television personality, Rick Steves wisely always says, be prepared for everything. https://www.ricksteves.com/
1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?
Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:
My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.
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2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.
The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.
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3. How do you fund your travelling?
I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.
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4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.
I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:
• Houston, Texas
• Cayman Islands
• The Netherlands
• New Zealand
and most recently,
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5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.
I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.
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6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?
The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.
Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.
It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.
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7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.
I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.
Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be
Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.
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8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.
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9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?
I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.
It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.
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10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!
My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.
Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.
Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.
We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.
It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.
We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.
We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.
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Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!
Wow. I mean just W.O.W… so we had been in San Diego & Los Angeles for about 6 days & were heading home. We were to leave from LAX. A pretty big, busy place, right? First of all, the bus driver nearly drove past our terminal. She caught herself just in time & off we leapt with our luggage. We got inside departures, the check in went well & the polite staff member said to us “Just head back to your left to Gate G. Have a safe flight” He even pointed in that direction. We about face-d, walked back toward where he gestured to & came upon… a wall. We looked around. Nowhere to go but outdoors. Literally everything else was blocked off. I discovered a small sign that kinnnnnnnd of points in the direction of where we had just been dropped off… do we actually go outside? Sure enough, as we ventured out, we saw a sidewalk & more construction barricades so we cautiously walked that way… behind us were other travellers doing the same thing. There really was only two choices: we go back to where we checked in and say “Ummm where do we go again?” or we continue on. We continued on. Sure enough, a ways down the sidewalk, we spotted some more somewhat useful signage that pointed to the gates.
That’s when we could not believe our eyes. Now, don’t get us wrong, we understand that as more people travel & airports etc are being used way more often by tons more people – improvements must be made, renovations have to be done & there will be a little confusion. We’ve been in airports during renos before. (London, Heathrow… the long, painful night of the ongoing clanging security alarms & jack hammers…) There really is no good time to do construction in such a busy place. The thing is: signage would clear up the majority of issues. As would strategically placed staff. We found ourselves being herded like confused cattle into what can only be described as a holding pen. There were about 80 chairs & eleventy-billion people. Ok so not quite that many, but you get the point. We decided to eat something, since we had arrived three hours ahead of our flight (as you’re supposed to do) & you’re never sure if there’s food served on board or not. We hauled ourselves into the Starbucks lineup. That was about 45 minutes. Now they were hustling & getting orders in but with only two machines – you can only make what you can make… Having ranted about that I will also say that I was thrilled to see more healthy food options & also some for dairy free, gluten free, vegan diners. There was a Shake Shack nearby as well, but not as healthy and just as packed full. We managed to score two seats as someone left to line up to board their flight. I needed to wash my hands & go to the loo so spent an hour in that lineup too. We thought we’d wander about & see some shops. There were kiosks. With bug spray, ear plugs, Tylenol & water. That’s. It. No windows or stores to peruse. Not even one. I swear I saw a fist fight brewing over an outlet with a USB port since quite a few that were in the seats weren’t working.
It would have been good to have some signs or staff to let you know, once you’re through security – There. Is. NOTHING. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Nowhere to sit. Travellers can then make the choice to spend maybe just one more hour wandering & looking around prior to checking in. Upon reflection, there seemed to be a shortage of staff in general… garbage containers were overflowing everywhere, there was no one to ask for directions or advice. There was one very determined woman who worked in the loo, making sure everything was clean & kept in order, so kudos to her.
We’ve learned that you have to expect just about anything when travelling. You have to roll with it. (Speaking of roll with it: For the love of God, get a good suitcase with decent spinner wheels… just spend the money, get the warranty & for a few years – travel much easier.) Always, always have something to read with you. Also, enjoying who you are travelling with is a major plus 😉
I am not being overly dramatic when I say: Packing is critical. If you pack too much, you end up disorganized, lugging around heavy bags, and paying top dollar fees for over-weight baggage and if you pack too little, you’ll be on the hunt down for extra clothing when you’d rather be on an actual adventure.
These are some essential things to keep in mind when it’s time to pack.
1. Get your packing process started at least a week ahead of when you’re leaving… at the very least… make a list! This way you’ll have time to purchase any additional items you might need. Then once you’ve got the perfect list type it out check-list style and print one every time you are going on holiday… you’ll be less likely to forget things. Sometimes we forget the most obvious things… those will be the items you can’t do without! I’ll place my checklist at the end of this post (to save paper you could place this in a plastic sleeve & use a dry erase pen to mark it).
2. Go online and find out about what you can take as luggage, while most airlines allow travellers to check at least one bag at no extra charge on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights.
3. Along with your one piece of carry on luggage, you are usually able to bring one other personal item. It is subject to specific size requirements but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is generally acceptable. I would suggest taking one, you’ll want to have at least one change of clothes in here in case your main luggage gets lost. The personal item you bring can contain your e-reader, itinerary, magazines, travel toothbrush & paste.. you get the idea. My husband and I each take a small tote style bag to place under the seat ahead of us and that way we don’t need to get up again once seated to get our books etc. Our carry on suitcases go in the overhead storage until we arrive at our destination.
4. Rolling is much better than folding.; tightly rolled clothes take up way less space than folded ones. And they are less wrinkled when you arrive at your destination, believe it or not. Also once rolled, smaller items can go inside your shoes for more space.
5. Any type of liquids should really be in plastic resealable bags. They WILL leak… it happens. Why even worry? Just pack them that way to begin with and save yourself the headache of hair gel soaked clothing, or shaving creamed shoes… My all-time favourite packing tip: you know how you get those little shower caps in hotel rooms or dollar stores? They make really good shoe covers for keeping the soles of your shoes from getting your clothes dirty! And all sizes of food storage bags (also from the dollar store) can hold all of your other like items together – hair products in one bag, lingerie in another, etc. They’re reusable & don’t take up any extra space. I even keep some in my carry on for mints, identification, earphones & medications.
6. If you’re travelling for longer than a week, you may want to wash some clothes in the hotel’s bathroom sink and hang them to dry. I always make sure to pack a travel-size packet of laundry detergent to clean my clothes on the road… there’s a method to this madness… I’ll pack less BUT have room for any new purchases I buy on our travels! I also take a small drawstring bag to use for soiled laundry, to keep it separate from the clean stuff.
7. See if you can find pants that turn into shorts or a jacket that turns into a vest, that’s another space-saving technique right there!
8. My best advise: Wear layers. Your actual travel outfit should be in plenty of layers, which will help you travel multiple climates in style and comfort. Also it gives you many more options of what to wear during your entire trip.
9. It’s really important to keep your valuable and essential belongings in your carry-on bag, not in your checked baggage. Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you… which leads me to >>>
10. Print triplicates of your travel info – you’ll be so glad to have done this… I make 3 copies of our itinerary (including hotels, flights etc); my husband gets one to keep with him, I get one to keep with me and I leave the last one with my mom. You never know what can happen. It’s a good plan to have another person, that’s not travelling with you, know where you’ll be and the times you’ll be gone/home.